The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia cracks moral whip

New Delhi, Aug. 28: Congress leaders caught in romantic tangles have been warned of possible disciplinary action on grounds of “moral turpitude”.

The warning was issued by AICC spokesman Jaipal Reddy, who justified suspension of Delhi municipal councillor Memwati Barwala as punishment for being involved in a love triangle that resulted in the murder of Congress councillor Atma Ram Gupta by fellow corporator Sharda Jain.

Reddy explained that Barwala was suspended from the party “because she was involved in an amoral affair”.

Asked if the same moral yardstick would be implemented at all levels of party hierarchy, the AICC spokesman replied without batting an eyelid: “Of course, we cannot have different sets of rules for different persons.”

Several senior Congress leaders were, however, dismissive about the party acting as a moral guardian, contending that the leadership had no role to play unless there was some crime involved.

Justifying party chief Sonia Gandhi’s move to suspend Barwala and Jain, they said Gupta’s murder had tarnished the image of the party, which had won 108 out of 134 Delhi municipal seats in the polls held after the Gujarat violence.

Party insiders said Sonia acted swiftly against the two councillors as she did not want a repeat of the tandoor murder case. The then AICC chief, Narasimha Rao, had been severely criticised for failing to act against Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma, who is at present in prison for allegedly murdering his wife Naina Sahni.

Yesterday, the moment Sonia got to know the details of Gupta’s murder, she called up chief minister Sheila Dikshit and the AICC general secretary in charge of Delhi, Kamal Nath, with directions to dismiss the two councillors involved.

Nath and Sheila have asked Jain and Barwala to vacate their seats in the city’s municipal corporation.

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